By a vote of 3-2, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has approved a new federal mandatory standard to improve the safety of infant bouncer seats.
The seats support babies in a reclined position and allow them to bounce. They are intended for infants up to 6 months old who have not developed the ability to sit up unassisted.
The new federal standard is based on the existing voluntary standard, ASTM F2167-17. The ASTM standard improved the requirements for stability to address tip-over incidents and for the battery compartment to address incidents involving battery leakage, corrosion, and overheating.
A rule with teeth
The Commission’s more stringent requirements are intended to further reduce the risk of serious head injuries associated with falls from elevated surfaces, such as tables and counter tops.
The mandatory standard will make fall hazard warnings more visible to caregivers by requiring the label to be placed on the front of the bouncer seat near the baby’s head and shoulders.
Caregivers are also instructed to use restraints even if a baby falls asleep in the bouncer, which is a likely occurrence. More on the new mandatory standard can be found here.
Numerous incidents reported
Between January 1, 2006 and July 6, 2016, 347 incidents involving bouncer seats were reported to CPSC, including 12 fatalities and 54 injuries.
The major cause of reported fatalities was suffocation resulting from unrestrained babies turning over in a bouncer or bouncers tipping over on soft surfaces (e.g., mattresses and comforters) when the product was placed on adult beds and cribs.
Additionally, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System indicates that there were 874 incidents involving bouncer seats from January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2015.
The hazard patterns related to these incidents (485 of the 874) were mainly due to infants falling while in bouncers or from a bouncer placed in hazardous locations, such as kitchen on countertops, tables, and other elevated surfaces.
Falls resulted in concussions and skull fractures, which can lead to brain damage and long-lasting health effects.
What to do
- Always use the bouncer on the floor, never on a countertop, table, or other elevated surface.
- Never place the bouncer on a bed, sofa, or other soft surface; babies have suffocated when bouncers tipped over onto soft surfaces.
- Always use restraints and adjust restraints to fit snugly, even if the baby falls asleep.
- Stay near and watch the baby during use.
- Stop using the bouncer when a child is able to sit up on his/her own or the baby reaches 20 lbs. (or the manufacturer’s recommended maximum weight.)
The CPSC has proposed that the rule become effective six months after the publication of a final rule in the Federal Register.